WaterThrashers' season underway
More than 125 swimmers make up this year's squad
A total of 128 area youth have signed up to compete for the Monett WaterThrashers summer recreational swimming team.
This year's squad has swimmers from Monett, Aurora, Pierce City and Cassville. The WaterThrashers are the largest team in the Tri-State Conference.
Youth from age 5-18 are allowed to compete for the team.
Coaching the WaterThrashers for a fourth consecutive season is Christin Janssen.
"I'm excited," said Janssen. "Swimming lends itself to everyone, regardless of ability. It allows youth to achieve and improve upon personal goals in a positive and enjoyable atmosphere."
While the WaterThrashers are technically considered a recreational team, the competition can become fierce.
"With the addition of Monett's high school team, our kids see a bigger picture," Janssen said. "It raised both the coaching staff's and kids' expectations."
Janssen's WaterThrashers will compete in nine meets over 11 weeks.
As a coach, Jansen sees her role as situational.
"When dealing with younger swimmers, I teach more of the mechanics," she said. "I want the kids to love swimming as they begin. This is a fun sport.
"It is hard to be successful if you don't enjoy what you are doing. As the swimmers grow and mature, I try to help the kids develop the mental toughness needed to be a competitor."
Janssen started swimming in junior high school and went on to swim collegiality at Grand Valley State University. While in college, she met her husband, Dan, who, is a teacher and swimming coach at Monett High School.
"Dan and I were both on the swim team in college," she said. "He was the one who encouraged me to first volunteer with the WaterThrashers. It has turned out to be a blessing ever since."
With the construction of the new Monett Area YMCA, swimmers can now prepare year-round. The WaterThrashers' practices also become a de facto training ground for the high school program.
"We have some swimmers who have the ability to swim collegiately," Jansen said. "Now that they have the opportunity to swim year-round, they can refine their skills to achieve higher goals."
Janssen said the city of Monett and the YMCA have been generous to the organization over the years, and that there have been several area residents and businesses who sponsor the team.
"We have an exceptional governing board," she said. "It's rare to find a group of dedicated individuals who work so well together. The members are great at organizing our local swim meet, finding volunteers to be officials and timers at our events. They are very supportive and understanding."
Janssen has simple goals for the WaterThrashers this season.
"First, I want all of our swimmers to have fun and enjoy the sport," she said. "Secondly, I want our swimmers to show individual improvement. Thirdly, I want the majority of our swimmers to qualify for the 'A' championship."